AB companies given green light to underpay thousands of TFWs 2014

Evidence shows Harper government continues to allow TFW program to undermine Canadian wages

Edmonton – The wages of Canadians are continuing to be undermined by the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Internal government documents obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour show that Alberta companies were given the green light to underpay thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers in 2013.

The documents are the latest evidence that the misuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is deliberate, pervasive and not limited to a few sectors of the Canadian economy.

“These documents are a snapshot of what was happening while Jason Kenney, the minister responsible for the program, was telling the public he had taken steps to better monitor and enforce the rules around the program,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Behind closed doors, they knew the rules were being bent and broken, and they knew thousands of TFWs were being underpaid and used as pawns to drive down wages for all Albertans.”

In 2013, 3,718 individual positions were approved across Canada in the low-skill categories, under 535 Labour Market Opinions (LMO).

Of those permits, the vast majority 2,122 of them were issued to employers in Alberta under 294 Labour Market Opinions.

TFWs were brought in to be paid less than Canadians as truck drivers, shipping and receiving, service station attendants, as health care workers, nurse aides, front desk clerks, metal fabrication labourers, delivery drivers, woodworking machine operators, heavy equipment operators, machining tool operators, automotive mechanics, mine labourers, and concrete, clay, and stone forming operators.

“As you look at these documents, it’s pretty clear that the problems in the Temporary Foreign Worker program extend far beyond the food services industry,” McGowan said. “These documents show the TFW program is being used to keep wages low, and to pay people less than what is paid to Canadians.”

TFWP regulations give Minister Kenney’s department the power to deny work permits if wages offered a worker in the Program are below prevailing regional wages for that particular occupation.

“PC leadership candidates, Conservative Members of Parliament, even Justin Trudeau are whining about the changes to the TFW Program,” McGowan said. “Whenever you hear a politician fighting to expand the TFW program, you know that they’re working for low-wage lobbyists and insiders, not for the good of Albertans.”

The documents, which contain records from all Canadian provinces and territories, can be accessed here:

LMOs issued for less than prevailing wage rates

Overview of locations and jobs where TFWs were paid less than Canadians

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org

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2014 LMOs issued for less than prevailing wage rates

Internal FOIP Documents:

2014 LMOs issued for less than prevailing wage rates

Supporting document to News Release Aug 15: Alberta companies given green light to underpay thousands of TFWs


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2014 Overview of locations and jobs where TFWs were paid less than Canadians

Overview of locations and jobs where TFWs were paid less than Canadians

Supporting document to News Release Aug 15: Alberta companies given green light to underpay thousands of TFWs

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2014 Ltr to Horner_re teachers pre-1992 pension

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Message from Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan in Regards to CRTC Fines

The AFL sent an interactive telephone broadcast message to hundreds of thousands of Albertans in the final week of the last election campaign in order to poll opinion on the Wildrose Party’s position on healthcare.

From the beginning, we wanted to comply with all CRTC regulations regarding recorded voice messages. However, in contravention of the rules, we failed to include a 1-800 number and our address. That was a mistake and we admit it.

We have taken responsibility for that mistake from day one. With that in mind, we have agreed to pay a $50,000 fine. We are also in the process of developing internal systems to ensure all CRTC rules are followed in the future.

We want to make it abundantly clear that we have no problem with the CRTC’s rules about recorded voice messages. The rules are fair and the CRTC has been even-handed in the enforcement of the rules.

As the CRTC made clear in their press release, from the very beginning everyone at the Alberta Federation of Labour has co-operated with them. We have worked with them to make sure that regulations are better understood, and that this will not happen again.

As president of the AFL, I know that the buck stops with me. I have learned lessons from this experience. Every effort will be made to ensure that all future broadcast messages from the AFL are in full compliance of the rules.


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Death of 15-year old Worker in Drumheller Tragic Reminder of Alberta’s Unsafe Work Laws

Alberta remains one of the most dangerous places in Canada to work, especially for young workers: AFL

 

 Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour is responding to Saturday’s death of a 15-year-old worker.

Alberta’s child, youth, and adolescent labour laws are among the worst in Canada, says the AFL. The province had a chance to toughen up those standards in a recent Employment Standards review, but nothing came of it.

“Alberta’s child labour laws are among the most lax in Canada,” says Siobhan Vipond, AFL Secretary Treasurer. “The AFL has repeatedly made recommendations to improve working conditions and safety standards, specifically for young workers. This weekend’s tragic news is yet another reminder that much more needs to be done to keep Albertans safe at work.”

“Just a few months ago, Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk launched a review of Alberta’s workplace laws. But the first item up for review was a question about expanding child labour,” says Vipond. “Instead of rushing more young workers onto potentially unsafe work sites, we need to keep young workers safe. Today, Alberta is one of the most unsafe places for young people to work.”

The AFL’s submission on April 11, 2014 to the Employment Standards contained several pages of recommendations on young workers.

 "Alberta needs targeted inspections of workplaces that employ 15-17 year olds, especially in construction and other comparatively dangerous occupations,” says Vipond. “The AFL made urgent recommendations earlier this year, and this past weekend we are sadly reminded why these changes are so desperately needed in Alberta.”

 A recent survey showed 49.7% of 797 adolescents surveyed had experienced at least one workplace injury in the previous year.

For 15-17 year olds, the research has shown young, minor workers are particularly vulnerable to abuses in the workplace, such as illegal deductions, unsafe work, handling of hazardous materials, and sexual harassment.

For that reason, the AFL recommended a program of targeted inspections and a special, mandated health and safety training programme for employers who hire 15-17 year old Albertans. Alberta must also review whether some industrial activities or occupations are prohibited for adolescents, particularly in forklift operations and construction work.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Brad Lafortune, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.901.1177 (cell)
or via e-mail
blafortune@afl.org

 

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2014 Fact Check: P3 Model Bad for Alberta Taxpayers

For Immediate Release
Friday, July 18, 2014

 

P3 Model Bad for Alberta Taxpayers

Lukaszuk’s Appointed P3 Board Idea a ‘Recipe for Corruption’

Edmonton - PC leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk’s proposal to create a “secretariat” that would oversee negotiations of Private-Public Partnerships (P3s) ignores the reality that P3s cost more, deliver less, and could open the door to corruption. 

In comments made to the Edmonton Journal, the former deputy premier admitted that P3 deals concerned him, and that he saw the potential for Albertans to be “taken for a ride.” His proposed solution is to create a special cabinet-appointed board to oversee Private-Public Partnerships, and to negotiate on behalf of the province. 

Read the Full Fact Sheet here!

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2014 Fact Check: Candidates for Premier Look to Open TFW Floodgates

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Candidates for Premier Look to Open TFW Floodgates

PC Leadership contenders all buy into bogus labour shortage claims

Edmonton – Ric McIver is using bogus claims of a provincial labour shortage as a scare tactic in the race to become Alberta’s new premier.

Neither of his rivals, Jim Prentice nor Thomas Lukaszuk, has refuted the premise of his argument that the province needs more control over the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to give employers more access to cheap, disposable workers. http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/politics/leadership+hopeful+McIver+urges+Alberta+solution/10029973/story.html

Read the full Fact Check here!

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2014 Fact Check: Wages Stagnate For Alberta’s Least-Paid Workers

PC Leadership candidate misinformed about how much employers pay

Edmonton – Tory Leadership Hopeful Thomas Lukaszuk is incorrect in his assertion that employers are offering higher wages to attract workers.

At a Calgary Stampede pancake breakfast on Monday, the former Deputy Premier said: “We do have a bona fide shortage of workers and in certain parts of the province, like Bonnyville, Cold Lake, Fort McMurray, Hinton, and Edson. No matter how much employers pay, they can’t attract workers to entry-level positions.” This quote was reported on Global News (http://globalnews.ca/news/1437094/alberta-pc-leadership-hopefuls-work-pancake-circuit/)

Read the full Fact Check here!

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Low-wage employers in Alberta are blowing smoke when they whine about labour shortages

Examination of Alberta jobs data shows that labour shortage claims from groups like CFIB are nothing but hot air

 

Edmonton – The federal government should tell low-wage employers and the Alberta government to “quit their whining” about recent changes to the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker program, said AFL president Gil McGowan as he released a new study showing that there is no economy-wide labour shortage in Alberta.

 

The study, entitled “Truth or Scare: Are Claims of a Labour Shortage in Alberta Based on Evidence?” uses empirical, Alberta-specific jobs data to examine the issue — as opposed to the kind of studies released by the CFIB, which rely on surveys of employers who have an incentive to overstate the difficultly they’re having filling positions.

 

“The labour shortage is basically a myth created by employers who want to keep wages low in the face of economic conditions which suggest they should be going up,” McGowan said. “It’s a myth that’s been used to promote policies like the TFW program that are bad for Canadians.”

 

Using a test for labour shortage developed by the Federal government’s own economists, the AFL study found that that there is no labour shortage in most sectors of the Alberta economy, including lower-skill, lower-wage sectors like retail, accommodation and food services.

 

“Now that the federal government has finally put some limits on the ability of low-wage employers to use the TFW program to drive down wages, groups like the CFIB are whining and trying to resurrect the labour-shortage boogeyman,” McGowan said. “This report exposes these complaints for what they really are: empty rhetoric from a group of self-interested whiners who want to short-circuit the healthy operation of the Canadian labour market.”

 

Experts agree that there is a three-part test to see if a labour shortage really exists. First, employment levels have to go up significantly. Second, unemployment rates have to go down significantly. And third, wages have to go up significantly. By these measures, with the notable exception of a very small number of occupations related to the energy sector, there is no labour shortage in Alberta.

 

According to Employment Minister Jason Kenney, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Alberta has increased by 14 per cent, and overall wages have increased 31 per cent since 2006. But in Alberta’s food services industry, wages have only increased eight per cent over the same period.

 

“Employers can’t say Canadians are unwilling to fill the jobs on offer until they’ve actually increased wages in keeping with changing market conditions,” McGowan said “What our study shows is that Alberta’s labour market is booming – but we’re not dealing with any economy-wide shortages.”

 

Although the AFL’s report is the first comprehensive look at available data, this is not the first time that the labour shortage has been shown to be fake. Over the past year, the Parliamentary Budget Office, former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the University of Alberta Economics Department and Fraser Institute Fellow Herb Emery have all released reports that debunk the labour shortage myth.

 

Key findings in the report:

• Retail Trade exhibits neither a shortage of workers nor rising wages.

• From 2010 to 2013, wages in wholesale trade fell

• From 2010 to 2013, wages in accommodation and food services stagnated

• Between 2007 and 2011, 23,100 Albertans enrolled in an apprenticeship program, but only 9,066 completed those programs

• The only occupational categories that saw rapidly rising wages as a result of shortages were in limited energy-related sub-categories.

• Manufacturing and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services saw wages increase a third and a quarter below average.

 

Link:  “Truth or Scare”

 

 

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org

 

 

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